A day in the life: a photo-diary of my friend and former colleague & her family

A day in the life: a photo-diary of my friend and former colleague & her family

One of the amazing and wonderful women who made it that much better during my PhD was Jen. She was doing her post-doc at that time, and we quickly grew close. (At first, I just talked too much, while she tried to get her work done efficiently so she could go home to her then very young daughter).

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The family I broke the law with: photography in High Park

The family I broke the law with: photography in High Park

I grew up in communist Bulgaria, which means I really do not like to break the law, or any rules. I get nervous around police-officers, or border-crossing people, or even security guards (perhaps especially security guards). One time, as a teenager, I got pulled over for speeding, and asked to hand over my license and registration. My hand shook so terribly that I had to lean it against the open window when handing the office my license….

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The biggest misconception about (my) documentary family photography

The biggest misconception about (my) documentary family photography

I often introduce myself to people as a documentary photographer. I put that right on my bio, on my website, everywhere.

The catch is that I have made a mistake in assuming everyone knows exactly how this works! 😱

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Life is anything but ordinary

Life is anything but ordinary

Over the years, you have learned - without realizing it - that your real life is ‘ordinary’. You have learned that the everyday moments, those regular things that happen daily, are less than ‘special’.

What you have learned is a lie.

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Documentary Family Photography | Sand, swings, and puddles: the mysteries of life

Documentary Family Photography | Sand, swings, and puddles: the mysteries of life

You've heard me say it before and I'll keep saying it just as often as I can: every family is different, and the activities that fill your days are unique to your own family, and you should never ever try to compare yourself to any other, because comparison is the thief of joy. But all strong families have one thing in common and that is...

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An hour with the Castellanos family

An hour with the Castellanos family

I made the trip back to Mississauga last weekend, during some kind of migraine-inducing pressure system that drove temperatures in mid-October to 24 Celsius. It was just as well, because Isabel's son was recovering from croup and the warm humid air was probably good for him. (Just guessing. I'm not a doctor.) They'd moved in to a new house only two weeks ago. Grandma and grandpa were visiting from Colombia, and they were hoping for some photos to take back with them. So, a busy time for them, and yet they made time for me.

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Fire engine red.

Fire engine red.

Toward the end of September, on a clear warm Saturday, the United Way and Kingston Fire and Rescue teamed up for a fundraising day full of fun for families. You could try your hand at putting out a car on fire, walk through an inflated house to learn about fire safety, take a ride in a firetruck, and run a fitness course fit for a fire-person.

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I threw out my back, and everything. (Alternate title: Dream it, and it will happen)

I threw out my back, and everything. (Alternate title: Dream it, and it will happen)

Midway through the month, I threw out my back. It might have had something to do with the 15-hour wedding I shot two days prior to that, or with my TERRIBLE posture when editing photographs. Or with the fact that I'm getting old. So old... :D

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family and so much more: on photographing life.

That's the best bit about documentary photography, I suppose: being welcomed into lives as they unfold, trying my best to do them justice. 

That whole bit about being a fly on the wall - who knows if that is true? Flies buzz around in your ear and unnerve you. A documentary photography experience normally has the opposite result: it calms and grounds people, and makes them thankful for the lives they live.

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from Ontario to Alberta: a family of six says goodbye

from Ontario to Alberta: a family of six says goodbye

The Murrays are one of those families that you want to have living on your block.

Though we were never actual neighbours, my kids went to school with their kids, and my daughter counted their daughter among her besties. And whenever I saw them around, they simply brought energy and fun and goodness to the community. In short, the Murrays are good people.

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when a girl turns eleven (and the worst place to get hit with a water balloon)

when a girl turns eleven (and the worst place to get hit with a water balloon)

Running, grinning, posing without prompt, a golden fidget spinner in the hand and plastic leis as vibrant crowns.

You’ll find all that and more, perhaps, should you be invited to photograph an 11th birthday party in the middle of July in Ontario.

And a photographer sitting in the grass, as a giant water balloon falls right on her crotch: risks of the trade.

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a fill of urban idyll.

a fill of urban idyll.

Spending this afternoon at the Toronto shore... It makes me miss the city. The scent of shawarma wafting through the summer air, the hum of traffic, the hiss and chimes of street-cars rounding corners, opening, and closing. Children somewhere, yelling, planes overhead, the pavement hot, the air - sticky.

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photography reaches deeper than research

photography reaches deeper than research

Before I became a family photographer, I was a parenting researcher. I was interested in how parents behaved, and how their children developed.

However, most of the hands-on data collection and family visits were not done by me. They were done by research assistants who would collect the data and hand it over to us, the researchers. 

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Why did you fall in love?

Why did you fall in love?

You've seen the photos social media tells you to have. You've seen it all.

What you might not have seen is that there is another way. Another way to document your days. Where the authentic is given full reign.

Ask yourself this: why did you fall in love with your life?

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why blogs are useless and a bit about documentary photography

why blogs are useless and a bit about documentary photography

My studio photos from when I was a kid - I think I’ve got a couple of those - are empty vessels. They're fully devoid of context. Other than my cute pig-tails, and the virginal white dress, I can’t answer any questions about the time and place. What was I into at that period in my life? I didn’t wear dresses except on that one day my grandmother took me to the studio, and I didn’t wear my hair in pigtails, either, I know that much. I wore "boys'" clothes and played with sticks and stray kittens and I was afraid of frogs (which hasn’t changed). None of that comes through in my childhood studio portraits. Not even a tiny bit, though I wish it could.

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go bowling, my friends

go bowling, my friends

When my "Year-in-the-Life" family took their two sons bowling, there were a few predictable glitches. Having an older brother and two parents who are bowling Gods (everyone looks like a pro when you first start bowling) does nothing for one’s ego. Will gave it a valiant effort, then there were some near-tears, then a change in strategy or five. Afterwards, he ate some fries and gave it another honest go. There were double underhand throws, and squat throws, and rotational slams, and anguish and thrill. It really doesn’t matter what the scoreboard ultimately said: the kid persevered, and that’s all anyone needs to know about that day.

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Fall for your life. Fall in love with real.

Fall for your life. Fall in love with real.

While you’re imagining all those other families have more glamorous lives than you, they’re just making dinner and having quiet conversation. They’re tired from a long day at work - just like you - and they, too, are looking to reconnect with loved ones.

So fall for your life. Fall in love with real.

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